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Christmas in Turkey

Snapshots of changing Christmas and New Year's celebrations in Turkey portray a picture of cultural divisions.

When you study religion, you make intriguing friends. I had two rather odd experiences on the same day. When I went to visit a longtime friend who is an observant Muslim, I found a six-foot plastic pine tree with a few odd ornaments and a torn-apart Santa Claus hat standing outside her family's door. My friend opened the door with a concerned smile and said, “Wait until your son becomes a teenager, then you will know what I am going through.” I replied, “Good to see you, too.” 

My friend has two teenage daughters. Her husband had given into the girls and brought home a tree as a surprise and to “welcome the new year,” but it was not acceptable to my friend. She said, “It is forbidden to join in the celebrations of the other religions.” Her daughters came in with teary eyes and fought her.

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